2014-01-08 22:05:56

Thom Hartmann on the News: Jan. 8, 2014

You need to know this.  On Tuesday, the Senate advanced legislation to extend long-term unemployment benefits, and all but six Republicans declined to vote for it.  Instead of helping to restore this financial lifeline to out-of-work Americans, Conservative lawmakers say that they are launching their own plan to help the poor.  Today, Senator Marco Rubio will deliver a speech marking the 50th anniversary of President Lyndon B. Johnson's War on Poverty, and he's expected to lay out the Republican plan to fight economic inequality.  Considering this is the same party that wants to slash food stamps, subject welfare recipients to drug tests, and kick people off unemployment assistance, it's hard to imagine how their ideas will include anything except for tax cuts for the rich.  In a video message previewing today's speech, Senator Rubio asked, “After 50 years, isn't it time to declare big government's war on poverty a failur?”  But, despite decades of Republicans trying to slash the social safety net, the war on poverty has actually been a success.  Just days ago, the New York Times released a report showing that the poverty rate would be twice as high without the government programs that the Right loves to hate.  Republicans don't care about the war on poverty – they've been waging war on the poor for decades.  If their tax cuts and austerity weren't so harmful to our nation, it would almost be laughable to hear conservatives talk about helping the poor.  But the fact is – poverty isn't a joke.

In screwed news... Our cars and hamburgers are even more toxic than we thought.  Researchers at Oregon State University have discovered that some chemical reactions create toxins that are hundreds of time more dangerous than their parent compounds.  Basically, when chemicals found in car exhaust or grilled meat mix together, they create new chemicals that pose a serious risk to our health.  And, scientists didn't even know these chemicals existed, so no we have no health standards by which to measure them.  Scientists are still working to identify the levels of these chemicals in our environment, and determine their exact health risks, but you may want to think twice before breathing in those exhaust fumes or taking a bite of that barbequed burger.

In the best of the rest of the news...

Seattle has sworn in a Socialist.  On Monday, City Council member Kshama Sawant became the most outspoken socialist candidate elected to local office since Bernie Sanders was elected mayor of Burlington, Vermont more than 30 years ago.  The local press predicted that supporters of Council woman Sawant – the first ever Occupy candidate - and Seattle's first openly gay mayor Ed Murray - would show up for “the largest turnout ever for a Seattle inauguration ceremony.”  And, the issues that Seattle's new council member talks about aren't unique to Washington state.  She says it's unacceptable that we have “enormous inequality in the wealthiest country in the world.”  Kshama Sawant's election has already made history, and now she's going to work to help the people of Seattle.

According to RadCast.org, waves of radiation are still hitting some areas of the U.S., and levels will likely increase in many places in coming days.  Chicopee, Massachusetts is reporting levels of 44 counts per minute, with spikes of 69, and Fredericksburgh, Virginia is hovering at 37, with highs of 57.  Rapid City, South Dakota is averaging 43 counts per minute, with highs of 68, and Colorado Springs is sitting at 60, with spikes of 72 counts per minute.  Henderson, Nevada is reporting levels of 47 counts per minute, with spikes of 70, and Chico, California is sitting at 33, with highs of 66.  Medford, Oregon is averaging 37, with peaks of 60, and Seattle, Washington is hovering at 33, with spikes of 43.  RadCast.org's alert level is 100 counts per minute, but they remind us that there is no such thing as a safe level of radiation.

Anti-tobacco measures have saved eight million lives in the U.S. Since 1964.  Fifty years ago, U.S. Surgeon General Dr. Luther Terry issued the first Report on Smoking and Health, and for the first time ever, explained the toll that cigarettes take on our nation.  In addition to saving lives, a new study in the Journal of the American Medical Association reports that national efforts to curb smoking rates have increased the life expectancy of men and women in the U.S.  Unfortunately, almost a fifth of Americans still smoke cigarettes, and smoking rates are actually rising is in nations like India, China, and Bangladesh.  Millions of lives have been saved in the U.S. because of anti-smoking measures, however we must continue these efforts to save millions more in our nation, and around the world.

And finally... Pat Robertson says he has proof that global warming is a scam.  On a recent episode of The 700 Club, the televangelist said, “It's getting warmer [on] Jupiter, and they don't have any SUVs driving around.”  Despite the overwhelming evidence of global warming, Robertson even thinks that global temperatures are heading in the opposite direction.  He said, “The inconvenient truth is it's getting cold, and some parts of America are colder than Mars!” and, he teased a “special story” about how “we could very well be entering another little ice age.”  Considering this is the same man who said that the devil caused the 2010 earthquake in Haiti and Disney World's “Gay Day” is responsible for hurricanes, perhaps science of any sort isn't really his forte.

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